HRC53 – Item 3 – Interactive Dialogue – SR Freedom of opinion and expression (sustainable development)
23 June 2023
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We agree with the Special Rapporteur: the effective participation of human rights defenders and a wide range of other civil society actors is required, along with access to information, to ensure “no one is left behind”.
In Azerbaijan a range of issues prevent access to information that ultimately undermines sustainable development. Azerbaijan has a terrible record on press freedom, including censorship and surveillance of journalists and human rights defenders, and its new media law has a widespread and negative effect on freedom of expression in the country.
In addition, we highlight Elchin Mammad, a human rights lawyer and journalist, who has been imprisoned for more than three years following the publication online of a report criticising the human rights situation in Azerbaijan.
In Serbia and Croatia, as in other countries, the widespread use of SLAPPs lawsuits against journalists has the effect of silencing independent journalism through financial and legal pressure.
In Georgia, we have concerns for freedom of expression in relation to cultural rights. In particular we express our solidarity with filmmaker Salome Jashi, and her colleagues, whose recent film has been attacked by government representatives amid trends of film censorship and the limitation of artistic freedom of expression.
We ask the Special Rapporteur whether it is possible for a state to claim significant advancement on the sustainable development goals on one hand, while fostering an environment of fear for independent journalism and freedom of expression on the other?